It’s amazing how much the weather and water conditions can change in as little as twelve hours here in late winter in East Tennessee. While guiding Kip and Wendy late yesterday we had cloudy skies, temperatures in the fifties and little to no wind. Day 2 would prove to be totally different with both the weather and water conditions on the French Broad. When I arrived at the ramp the air temperature was thirty-eight degrees, there was a stiff cold wind blowing out of the north and it was raining. One of those raw blustery days that makes it a challenge to enjoy fishing even when the fish are biting. I knew that Kip and Wendy were hard chargers and were not going to be deterred by the less than favorable weather conditions. Because the French Broad was now back up to 12,000 cfs I opted to concentrate our efforts on the Little Pigeon. The first spot we pulled up on that fishes well when the French Broad is running hard did not take long for it to produce for Kip. He connected with a nice smallmouth right out of the gate with a chatterbait. After releasing the fish Kip made a couple of casts into that same spot and nailed another nice seventeen inch smallie. I thought we might be off to the races, but the chatterbait bite stopped so Kip tied on a green colored jerkbait. After several casts he set the hook and from the look of the bend in his rod and how it stayed deep with a steady pull I had the feeling it was not a small fish. It remained deep and did not make any strong runs as he skillfully worked it toward the boat. I started talking drum at this point because of the way it was behaving and I also had caught several large drum in that same spot a week ago. All of a sudden the fish made a right turn and came towards the transom where Kip was standing. He had to put some additional pressure on the fish to stear it away from going under the motor and as he did this the fish made a violent and sharp hundred and eighty degree turn away from the boat and launched into the air. It was a beautiful twenty plus inch smallmouth that was probably pushing five pounds. Unfortunately, as bad luck would have it and just as it hit the water the treble hooks on the tail end of the jerkbait that I hoped were firmly lodged in the top of the mouth came unpinned. It was nothing that Kip did wrong. It just happened to be one of  those unfortunate circumstances we all have faced as smallmouth fisherman of there being just enough slack line available to throw that hook while they are airborne. To add insult to injury, it continued to snow on and off for the next several hours, but during  midafternnon the clouds parted and the sun started to shine and warm things up. It was now Wendy’s turn to get in on the action. She won the multi-species trophy by catching a nice largemouth, smallie, and a twenty inch walleye to cap off the end of the trip. I had a great time on the river with Kip and Wendy and they earned every fish they caught on a day when most people would have stayed home.

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